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Two ditches on "offensive" speech
We should not be "nice guys" who sacrifice truth to avoid offending people, but we should also not be nasty and hateful to avoid being "politically correct."
One of the problems with responding to error is that we tend to over-correct and fall into an opposing error. For generations, the conservative movement has fallen into the "niceness" ditch. We must not say anything offensive, so we wind up sacrificing truth in pursuit of being "polite" or being "nice guys." Republicans lose elections, and conservatives lose the culture, because we are not willing to speak the truth plainly and honestly.
With the advent of the Internet feeding our worst instincts under the cloak of anonymity, we have seen demands to run in the other direction. To some extent, this is good. When we tell the truth, and especially when we proclaim God's Word, people will be offended. Scripture calls Jesus Christ the "Rock of Offense" in 1 Peter 2:8 and Romans 9:33. When people are offended, that can be a good thing: A sign that the Holy Spirit is convicting them.
The problem is too many people have fallen into the opposite ditch, which is just as bad. The reaction to the "nice guy" error is to be as nasty as possible, reveling in personally insulting, smearing and offending people. Foolish conservatives praise this mentality as rejecting "political correctness," or telling it like it is. But being nasty and hateful, viciously personally attacking people and insulting them is not the path to "victory" either. It angers and motivates the opposition while turning off people who are persuadable.
A man who always "says what he thinks" is not "strong." He lacks the wisdom to know when to give a soft answer and when to speak boldly. The man who always says what is on his mind is extremely weak and effeminate. That is why we teach our children that some things are not appropriate to say in certain situations and sometimes not at all. Part of being an adult is learning to discipline your mouth. Remember, Proverbs 25:28 tells us that someone who has "no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
So how do we know what we can or should say, and when we can or should say it? Obviously, some things should never be said. But for when we should use harsh language and when you should use a soft answer to turn away wrath, it is hard work. There is no set of rules. There is no formula you can plug into a spreadsheet. You should listen to wise counsel, especially from people who are older than you are. You should pray for wisdom. You should read the Bible.
But if you are only being "nice" or only getting out the flamethrower, you need to re-orient your worldview. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ was gentle and lowly when He needed to be, and He also called people "dogs" and "vipers" while sharply rebuking them. You will fail in knowing when to be gentle and when to be harsh, but you should not be either all of the time. Always seek to tell the truth, and always seek to honor God and love your neighbor.
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